Disorientation and Not Writing

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Hello. It’s been a long time.

Have you ever felt that there was so much around you taking up your mental, physical, even spiritual energy that you didn’t have any to spare? In this last season of good-byes and hellos, as I bid a sad farewell to my home, my workplace, my town, my friends, and my familiar place in this world, I didn’t have enough … anything … to write.

I made lists of what to write about: what happened to me, what I read and watched, thoughts I thought. I even had titles for a few of these hypothetical posts (stay tuned for “Swearing at Mountains”), but I couldn’t write them. I couldn’t sit down at my computer and put words on the screen. I just couldn’t.

So much of my energy was being funneled into staying upright and planning for the next step. Sometimes I was better at one than the other. Often I was bad at both. But somehow I kept moving forward. With every step I took, I made a choice again to follow the path God laid in front of me, regardless of where it led me.

Even to Texas.

I don’t regret not writing. Which seems odd, since I call myself a writer on days when I’m feeling really cocky. And here’s why.

Writing feeds me. It gives me joy and purpose. It lets me feel like I am making some small mark on the world, even just on a few tired souls who occupy the same corner of the internet that I do. It’s my way of accessing the Divine. I feel whole when I write.

Recently, though, I haven’t been whole. I’ve had bits and pieces of me all over this fine country and even abroad. I’ve been thinking and planning, packing and changing, and all of this made my writing, my wholeness, feel impossible. It was impossible. I’ve been scattered.

I could have made myself write.  I’ve written some things in the darkest nights of utter despair. But nights like these, they were just dark enough to be unsure of where I was headed, and so I couldn’t write. Because writing orients me, and I was utterly disoriented.

That’s okay. It’s okay to be disoriented.

It’s okay to not be able to write, or to read, or to go to church. It’s okay to take breaks, to walk outside, to hide for a while. It’s okay to be focused on you and what’s happening in your headspace. It’s okay to be confused and uncertain and really really hole-filled.

But it’s not okay to stay there forever.

I’m not saying “buck up and get over it.” I’d never say that without knowing you and your dark nights. Maybe your dark nights will last for weeks or months, maybe even years. That’s between you, your God, and your therapist. I am saying that it’s okay to be not okay, it’s okay to be broken, but don’t wallow indefinitely.

Definitely wallow, but not forever.

Because there’s a time for grief and confusion, and there’s a time for joy and writing. Or pain and writing, or fear and writing, or laughter and writing.

Now I have no more boxes in my home. I have a place for my iron and my vacuum. I have an orange colander and a huge desk. I bought new sheets, and I know the location of the nearest grocery store, library, and Starbucks. I’ve been to orientation. I’ve been oriented.

And so, I can write again.

Whatever your writing is–whether it’s singing or dancing or speaking or laughing or holding–I hope you can do it. I hope you can do your writing. And if you can’t right now, I hope you can do it soon. Until then, let someone else do your writing for you.

If you’re whole, do it. If you’re not, don’t. And let’s do what we can to fill in each other’s holes, to help reorient, to forgive mixed metaphors.

Many of you did it for me; I’ll do my best to do it for you.

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6 thoughts on “Disorientation and Not Writing

  1. Hi, so I only somewhat creepily follow you on Twitter, but I have had (am still having) this exact same experience. Here in England, I had the honour of meeting a famous poet and literary critic who told me rather breezily that he wrote something like three novels during grad school and I simply couldn’t imagine…I can barely even journal anymore. But I like to think that sometimes things need time to ripen — it’s better to live something fully and then revisit it in writing later, don’t you think? The essential things become clearer. Love your blog!

    1. Catherine (or are you still Catie? :D), so glad to hear from you, and glad to hear others have a similar experience. You make such a good point about letting things ripen and being fully present wherever you are. I definitely agree…and I won’t be writing three novels. No way!

  2. Looks like all your bits and pieces are catching up with you. Once they all get adjusted to Texas time, you’ll find your voice again. 🙂

  3. The fact that you have an orange colander makes me happy. Like, even living in TEXAS, you’re going to be OK because you have an orange colander. I know YOU know you’re going to be OK. I wasn’t worried about YOU knowing it. I just selfishly feel like I need to know it, too. And the orange colander, like William Riker, makes it so.

    I’m so very glad to have you back visiting this space, and therefore my head and heart, with your words. This makes you closer. And I love that this first post from TEXAS (which apparently can only be written with all caps and a teeny, tiny measure of angst) is all about permission to be ourselves with whatever wholeness or holes we bring. I sure like you.

    1. Beth, I felt the SAME way about my orange colander. And I’m so grateful for your electronic support since I don’t get to see you in person any longer. You’re such a gem, and I’m so honored to have you read my silly little words since you’re such a rock star. I sure like you too.

      (And I completely agree about the TEXAS angst)

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